At the risk of making that Meatloaf song run through your head, I will report that it was long ago and far away when I was cycling through Quebrada Macul in Peñalolén, Santiago (please don’t try this alone) with a bike mechanic friend when I heard a clicka-clicka-clicka coming from one of our bikes. I stopped, pedaled tentatively and tried to find the source. “It’s me,” he told me. I was incredulous. How could a person who makes his living getting bikes back on the road ride around with a mystery click?
And that’s when he told me, “En casa del herrero, cuchillo de palo.” This Spanish expression, which means something akin to “the shoemaker’s kids go barefoot,” (lit: In the blacksmith’s house, there are wooden knives) has been rolling around in my head since then, but I’ve never had a use for it. But yesterday we hefted and hoisted and lowered and dropped the play kitchen that used to be my niece’s out of the attic and into its new location against the sunny wall of my sister’s living room for the now 19-month-old moppet (my nephew) to use. He started playing with it even before we’d put it in place and has been happily banging pots and pans and putting dolls in the microwave and whatnot. But yesterday he was walking around with something in his hand that you can use to “cut” apart these wooden vegetables secured together with velcro.
I’d never really pictured what a cuchillo de palo would look like. It’s a wooden knife. He had one in his hand. And me dio risa. (It made me laugh, lit: it gave me laughter.)